Carlos’s compositions

As promised last time, a few thoughts on Carlos:

What do you think of Carlos’ orchestrations in Interpol as well as his solo compositions (ie, ‘the Mortician’ for HBO iPromo)?”

– I really love the way Carlos captures a particular style of composition with “Mortician,” one that is now nearly ubiquitous in the world of soundtracks (both in film and television), but that actually has roots in concert music from about 20+ years ago: I’m speaking here of composers such as John Adams (I highly recommend his work from 1980 called Harmonium), Steve Reich (and his 1976 work Music for 18 Musicians), and of course Philip Glass (his 1988 piano piece Metamorphosis was used to great effect in the new version of “Battlestar Gallactica”), the last of whom has composed several recent film scores (The Hours, The Illusionist, etc). I find it quite remarkable that Carlos, a self-trained musician, has managed in “Mortician” to both reproduce, and make his own, a style of music that is associated mostly with highly educated composers (Adams studied at Harvard, while Reich and Glass both attended Juilliard).

– What really surprised me when I first listened to “Mortician” is how happy and up-beat sounding it is, as I’d always thought of Carlos as a “dark” musician, and just assumed that “darkness” was what he brought to Interpol. And in fact listening to this track one doesn’t necessarily hear a lot of “Interpol.” What does sound closest to me in terms of the Interpol sound occurs in the peak-moment around minute 5:00, before which a dramatic build-up has taken place. Such climaxes (i.e., those that occur about three-quarters of the way through the song) are quite common in Interpol’s songs. We then get this very clever return to the beginning material, which highlights the cyclical “time” theme that’s been apparent from the very beginning with the presence of the clock ticking. The clock fades away about 10 seconds from the end, and just as the music begins to swell dramatically again, the piece is abruptly over with a short pluck of the strings. I think we get a touch of Carlos’ sense of humor here: dramatic climaxes don’t last forever, after all. In general I think we get a taste of Carlos’ true personality in this piece, and thereby get a peak into which elements he brings to Interpol, namely an ear for drama and a flair for orchestration.

– The opening of Carlos’ orchestration of “Pioneer to the Falls” represents an entirely different musical style to me, more along the lines of Wagner or Mahler (both of whose music served as the basis for the majority of the film music composed in the first half of the 20th century). The opening horn moment is quite emblematic of the so-called late-Romantic era of Western European music. What sort of confuses my ear with this orchestration, however, is the style-change that takes place when Paul’s voice enters, where Carlos adds plucked strings, piano, and xylophone; as a result we end up with something like a Danny Elfman/Gustav Mahler blend that doesn’t quite sit right with me. I think this blend would have been more convincing for me had Carlos put a little more sustained bass in the mix, as it feels a bit treble-heavy. However, I will say that I absolutely adore the timpani hit at 3:28 and his treatment of the “So much for make believe…” section, and the fact that I can be critical at all with this track speaks to its worth.

– I’ll just add (in case I’ve made you question my love of Carlos’ music!) that I’m looking forward to hearing more compositions by Carlos in the future, as I think these pieces are just a taste of what’s to come from his solo oeuvre.

Up next, a fan asks about Interpol’s development from early songs (such as “Precipitate”) to now.

As always,

Love from,


P.S. Just a reminder that my email is if you’d like a copy of my NARC paper.


~ by megwilhoite on January 25, 2008.

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